FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Unspoken Problem With the Tamir Rice Killing

In all the justified anger that another black was murdered by a cop–and a black CHILD at that–one element in this particular situation seems to have been ignored by everybody.  Last night, as I watched Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC, I saw that it was no more a factor in her discussion than the account by Black Agenda Report, which said of the shooting, “This case has received national and international attention because it exposes the depraved nature of police brutality in occupied African-American communities.”

This is absolutely right, of course.  The war by police on Black Americans is a continuation of the war on former black slaves in the post bellum South, when unfortunate young black men, Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit,” were strung up with utter impunity by whites in hoods and sheets.  None of us who saw it can ever forget the face of Emmett Till in his coffin.

But, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” as the French say, and the UNADDRESSED problem now is the fact that Tamir Rice had a TOY gun in his hand.

Guns are not toys.  They are deadly weapons designed for a sole purpose:  to hurt and to kill.   Real guns require some level of training to be used properly, and many, if not most, Americans think they should be kept out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals, of the latter, a problem akin to the proverbial “belling the cat.”

Giving a child a TOY gun is little different from putting him in front of a video game that enables him to play at killing people for hours on end, with no caution that this fantasy should not be carried over into real life.  Perhaps the parents who undoubtedly pay for the toy weapon, or the video games, admonish him (or her) about that, but I wonder if it is very many:  “Son, do you realize that with a real gun, you could really hurt your friend, or that somebody might actually die for a gunshot wound?” Or, to make the idea real, they take him on a “field trip” to a morgue and actually show him a gunshot victim:  “Son, in real life, if you shot somebody, this is what it would look like.” (I say, “Son,” because guns are often a symbol of masculinity, and girls are less likely to be involved in owning either a toy or the real thing.)  Of course, growing up in the inner city, a child may, in fact, have seen gun violence first hand, but it is a fair question whether or not anybody around him or her took the time even to deal with his feelings about it, let alone use it as an object lesson about the dangers of guns.

In any case, I am no more confident that white parents say these things than black parents.  But, minorities and whites are all members of this society, and as somebody once said, “culture” is what gets passed on to your children.  If that is the case, then surely the act of putting a toy gun into the hands of a child is an introduction to the American Culture of Random Violence.

Playing with guns, and playing video games about shooting people, instills a sense of unreality into these weapons that may be part of the problem of the explosion of “gun violence” in America.  I have always thought that the idea of simply regulating the real thing was far too simplistic an approach to the complex social dysfunction that “gun violence” really represents.

Individuals in rural areas like Louisiana hunt in order to eat, and those who live in the inner city justifiably feel they need to have guns in self defense to protect themselves from the depredations of gangs and drug dealers. Okay.  Let adults have real weapons and ammunition, which they must keep out of the hands of children, and let them be trained to use those weapons properly.  Having a gun may only “up the ante,” though, and exacerbate the problem, making the innocent holder of the weapon a threat and a moving target for criminal gun-owners or anyone else.

It doesn’t even have to be a real gun for that to happen.  Possession of anything that looks like a gun can easily enable a cop to “shoot first and ask questions later,” as this tragedy makes all too clear.

By the way, to give a child a gun–toy or otherwise–on the day that we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace seems an oxymoron that only gives oxygen to morons.

Either that, or it simply is basic training for participation by the poor of all races in the Wars for Empire led by the war-mongers who run this country, and an important part of the preparation for killing Third World peoples with impunity.

More articles by:

Romi Elnagar is a California-born convert (revert) to Islam, and a retired schoolteacher-librarian in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  She worked in anti-war campaigns in the late sixties, and for the United Farmworkers Union. Her email address is montereypinegreen@yahoo.com.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail